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Nat Commun. 2011;2:289. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1288.

Reversible temperature regulation of electrical and thermal conductivity using liquid-solid phase transitions.

Author information

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.

Abstract

Reversible temperature tuning of electrical and thermal conductivities of materials is of interest for many applications, including seasonal regulation of building temperature, thermal storage and sensors. Here we introduce a general strategy to achieve large contrasts in electrical and thermal conductivities using first-order phase transitions in percolated composite materials. Internal stress generated during a phase transition modulates the electrical and thermal contact resistances, leading to large contrasts in the electrical and thermal conductivities at the phase transition temperature. With graphite/hexadecane suspensions, the electrical conductivity changes 2 orders of magnitude and the thermal conductivity varies up to 3.2 times near 18 °C. The generality of the approach is also demonstrated in other materials such as graphite/water and carbon nanotube/hexadecane suspensions.

PMID:
21505445
PMCID:
PMC3104514
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms1288
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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